Girl Model, a new documentary which debuted earlier this month at SXSW, has already caused quite a stir for it’s bald portrayal of the modeling industry–specifically the industry’s practice of scouting and employing young teen girls. The film follows 13-year-old Siberian model Nadya Vall through the ups-and-downs of her first year working–from getting scouted in her small hometown, to being sent unsupervised to Tokyo for her first gig. In the trailer alone, one can’t help but feel bad for Vall as she grapples with the language barrier in Tokyo, is told to lie about her age on a shoot, and winds up crying for her mother as the trailer comes to an end.
But what’s even more shocking is the backstory. After speaking with directors Ashley Sabin and David Redmon, it’s clear they never set out to make an exposé of the modeling industry–even if that was the end result. We also spoke with model Rachel Blais, who also appears in the film and served as a kind of consultant on the modeling industry to the film’s directors. She says she’s stopped getting as much work since the film was released. Finally, we spoke to Nadya Vall, now 17, at the center of it all, who has never even seen the film. She’s still working as a model and her agency is furious with the way she’s been portrayed in the film. Vall told us over email that she is confused and frustrated to learn, via letters and the internet, that she’s been depicted as a victim.
Hear everyone’s side: